People v. Krueger

Decision Date17 October 1980
Docket NumberNo. 52566,52566
Citation45 Ill. Dec. 186,82 Ill.2d 305,412 N.E.2d 537
Parties, 45 Ill.Dec. 186 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Michael KRUEGER, Appellant.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

Mary Robinson, Deputy State Appellate Defender, Elgin, and Patrick M. Carmody, Law Student, for appellant.

William J. Scott, Atty. Gen., Chicago (Donald B. Mackay, Melbourne A. Noel, Jr., and Mark L. Rotert, Asst. Attys. Gen., Chicago, of counsel), for the People.

MORAN, Justice:

Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Winnebago County, defendant, Michael Krueger, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 to 50 years in the penitentiary. The appellate court affirmed (74 Ill.App.3d 881, 30 Ill.Dec. 936, 393 N.E.2d 1283), and we granted defendant leave to appeal.

Defendant contends that the police violated his Miranda rights by continuing to interrogate him after he requested counsel.

Prior to his trial for the murder of James Finnegan, defendant moved to suppress certain inculpatory statements made to three Rockford police officers soon after his arrest. A hearing was held on defendant's motion, during which it was revealed that defendant was arrested on the evening of November 4, 1976, pursuant to a sworn statement which defendant's girlfriend, Sharon Sularz, had given to the Rockford police. Her statement recited the details surrounding an incident in which defendant caused Finnegan's death by stabbing him several times with a knife while the two were struggling in a car during the early morning hours of August 28, 1976. Prior to being questioned by Detective Donnelli, Detective Otwell and Sergeant Galvanoni, defendant was given the full Miranda warnings. Defendant stated that he understood his rights and, at 8:20 p. m., signed a written waiver-of-rights form.

Defendant first answered questions about several burglaries, unrelated to the stabbing incident, and stated that he had been involved in nothing else. After being questioned about the stabbing, however, defendant signed a statement implicating himself in Finnegan's death. All three officers testified that defendant made no request relating to his Miranda rights during this time period. On cross-examination, however, each officer testified that defendant did make a response when they started to question him about the stabbing. According to Detective Donnelli, defendant said, "Wait a minute. Maybe I ought to have an attorney. You guys are trying to pin a murder rap on me, give me 20 to 40 years." Detective Otwell testified that defendant raised partially up out of his chair and said, "Hey, you're trying to pin a murder on me. Maybe I need a lawyer." Lastly, according to Sergeant Galvanoni, defendant said, "Just a minute. That's a 20 to 40 years sentence. Maybe I ought to talk to an attorney. You're trying to pin a murder rap on me." Detective Otwell replied to defendant that the news media, not the police, had said it was murder; that only two people knew what had happened and one of them was dead. When defendant asked the officers how they knew the stabbing was not in self-defense, the officers said they did not know and that was why they wanted to talk to him about it. Shortly thereafter, defendant gave a written statement admitting that he had stabbed Finnegan and describing the circumstances surrounding the incident.

According to defendant's testimony, at the time the officers asked him about the stabbing incident, he indicated to them that he thought he should have an attorney. On cross-examination, he admitted that the officers' account of the conversation was accurate. The cross-examination continued as follows.

"Q. Why did you continue talking to them after you say you said, 'I think I should have an attorney'?

A. Have you ever been interrogated by three Rockford Police Detectives?

Q. No, I haven't, but I want to know why you continued talking to them.

A. Because I believed it was self-defense. I still do. They wanted a statement of what happened to clear it up. I wanted to get it off my chest, so I gave them a statement.

Q. But you know you had a right to have an attorney there if you wanted one, didn't you?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. You ever insist on having an attorney contacted?

A. I asked for an attorney before I began the statement, and I saw that it was not going to get me anywhere, so I just ceased on that line, because I just knew I wasn't going to get an attorney anyways.

Q. Did it occur to you not to talk any further?

A. Yes, but it occurred to me I might be up all night and be badgered by these three detectives."

At approximately 9 a. m. the next morning, the same three officers sought to question defendant further about the incident. Defendant was asked if he still understood his rights. He replied that he did and that he would talk to the officers. Defendant then told the officers more about the incident.

The circuit court denied defendant's motion to suppress the written and oral statements, finding that the statements were made voluntarily, that defendant understood his rights, and that his rights were not violated. In the appellate court, the defendant argued, in part, that his statements were obtained through interrogation which was continued after he had requested counsel. The appellate court, in affirming the conviction, held that defendant's mention of an attorney did not constitute a request for counsel under Miranda.

The combined arguments of the parties in this court ask us to decide, first, whether defendant invoked his fifth amendment right to counsel, and, second, assuming defendant did invoke such right, (a) whether his written statement was the result of continued, "interrogation," (b) whether he thereafter waived his right to counsel, either before his written statement or before his oral statement the following morning, and (c) whether the admission of the statements into evidence was harmless error.

The right to counsel involved here is an adjunct of the fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination. This right must be made known to a suspect prior to custodial interrogation as part of the warnings which the United States Supreme Court adopted in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694. The Miranda warnings are prophylactic safeguards designed to guard against infringement of the privilege against self-incrimination. Statements made by a suspect as a result of in-custody interrogation are not admissible to establish his guilt unless the court finds that the suspect waived his Miranda rights prior to making the statements.

The facts that a suspect's statements were voluntary, that he made them with a...

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71 cases
  • State v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court
    • April 21, 1982
    ...being informed of such right, defendant asked officer whether he thought counsel was necessary); People v. Krueger, 82 Ill.2d 305, 311, 45 Ill.Dec. 186, 189, 412 N.E.2d 537, 540 (1980), cert. denied, 451 U.S. 1019, 101 S.Ct. 3009, 69 L.Ed.2d 390 (1981) (statement of defendant that "maybe I ......
  • Higginbotham v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • February 16, 1989
    ...they believed the request was for custodial counsel or trial counsel is not to be given undue emphasis. People v. Krueger, 82 Ill.2d 305, 45 Ill.Dec. 186, 412 N.E.2d 537 (1980).10 Although the events preceding appellant's request could arguably be construed as showing some evidence of waive......
  • State v. Dobson
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • February 4, 1992
    ... ... , and, until the expulsion of the Stuarts from the British throne in 1688, and the erection of additional barriers for the protection of the people against the exercise of arbitrary power, [were] not uncommon even in England. While the admissions or confessions of the prisoner, when voluntarily ... See, e.g., People v. Krueger, 82 Ill.2d 305, 311, 45 Ill.Dec. 186, 189, 412 N.E.2d 537, 540 (1980) ('[A]n assertion of the right to counsel need not be explicit, unequivocal, or ... ...
  • Com. v. Hubble
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • January 16, 1986
    ...have held that requests falling below this threshold do not trigger the right to counsel. See, e.g. People v. Krueger, 82 Ill.2d 305, 311, 45 Ill.Dec. 186, 189, 412 N.E.2d 537, 540 (1980) ("[A]n assertion of the right to counsel need not be explicit, unequivocal, or made with unmistakable c......
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